The essence and origins of life. What is it? Yes, we can define characteristics that differentiated the living from the non-living. The building blocks of life are still not the same as a simple virus. Do you think new forms of life "become living" these days?. Do you think that the conditions to form new life simply do not exist anymore? Evolution can not even begin until something (still yet unknown to us) happens first. Do you think we will ever discover the recipe?
The recipe - natural laws allowing for combinations of chemicals and matter to arrange themselves in ways that allow for stability and, ultimately, replication.
"Do you think we will ever discover the recipe?"
Yep ... I do, and I hope its in my lifetime.
Your question reminds me of the Milton the Monster song
I don't think it could happen again on today's earth. The environment is very different (the atmosphere now has oxygen in it; it did not back then), and any bunch of pre-biotic molecules would be delicious food for an already existing microbe long before they could form life.
If some cataclysm were to wipe out all life on earth (and it would have to be one huge catastrophe to get all the extremophiles) then yes, it could happen again.
Will we ever discover how it did happen? That's a very good question. Right now we don't even have a scenario that could have been the right one--i.e., one that has been demonstrated to take you from point A (simple molecules) to point B (life) in an environment like the early earth--or in any environment for that matter.
If we came up with one, or two, or a dozen (and I think we will, someday), I am not sure we'd be able to tell which one is the one that actually happened.
Even pointing to a proposed scenario and pointing out that step #364 is a phenomenally unlikely reaction that could only happen once in a trillion years on a planet like earth would NOT be enough to rule it out, as there are almost certainly billions of planets not unlike planet earth was back then, in the universe, and that would work out to it happening once every thousand years, somewhere. In fact some scientists expect that the final answer will be that there is some really unlikely step in the chain--it would help solve Fermi's paradox, wondering where all the aliens are.
Fermi's paradox. Regardless of mathematical speculation, the evidence suggests strongly we won't be visiting any space neighbors to borrow a cup of space goo.
For all practical purposes we are alone crawling on the surface of a spinning rock floating in the vastness of space, surrounded by smaller flying rocks trying to kill us.
We have only been able to transmit a signal into space for a couple of hundred years, in that time we have had two world wars, numerous armed conflicts, come close to nuclear annihilation, and had zero periods of global peace.
Currently we are systematically destroying the ecosystem that supports our ability to live on this rock.
All this indicates to me that:
1. The Universe allows for the development of intellectual biological life (we are proof of that).
2. Life capable of making radio waves is rare (not hearing radio waves from any non-earthly source is proof of that).
3. Space is vast and it takes time for radio waves to travel, it takes 100,000 years to cross just our own galaxy. Which means for an intelligence on the other side to hear us, they will need to be listening 100,000 years from now.
4. Species go extinct (99.99 percent of all the species every to exist on this planet being extinct is proof of that). So will we. How long will we be here transmitting and listening?
Conclusion: Life is rare, the time frame we have been transmitting and receiving radio waves is short in the Cosmic time frame and the distance is large. Basically it doesn't matter, we had better take care of ourselves because we can't call the Inter-Galactic Triple A for help, went we run out of gas. :(
I don't think we will ever get further than Mars, and even then only to explore it, not to set up any kind of permanent encampment there. It's just too dangerous a place. If we did set up so some researchers or workers (miners?) were to stay for long periods, they'd have to spend it underground because of the danger of gamma rays. It'd be like living in antarctica during winter where you spend most of the time indoors, only going out bundled in bulky protective clothing. Only, it'd be worse...
The Manned Mars mission is now being discussed as a one-way deal.
Making it a colonization deal instead of round trips.
The major expense is escaping the planet with all that life support weight, a one-way trip means you don't have the cost of a launch off the Martian surface. No need to carry extra launch system and fuel, turn all that excess weight into stuff to build a colony with.
Once a successful colony is established all you need to do is send supply drones (no need for life support).
It's a more practical plan, it's just a one-way trip for the people.
There is no reason not to send all the materials for the colony up first.
Not exactly what people mean by "colonizing," though. So, I wonder who is willing to sign up for a one-way trip, never to be physically present with their family ever again.
A penal colony, perhaps. A kind of Devil's Island in space.
They already have volunteer astronauts for the job.
One of the few gaps left in in the question 'where do we come from' (guess we better just buy into religion since there's something we don't fully understand yet, eh?)
I do believe this one is only a matter of time, some scientist in a lab will create life and 'find the recipe'
One interesting thing that might be under considered, is that the Earth had a lot of time, before we came along, to get 'life' right.
While a modern day scientist might get lucky finding the 'recipe', given generations of experiments and insights, it would seem that without this information/insights his search could take a while. Much of 'life' seems to have a 'self-assembly' preference for structure, but is still dependent upon initial conditions. Setting up the experiments, 'just right', could still involve the search in a rather large decision space.
I am optimistic, and hopeful, but what happens to 'humans' when we obtain this new tool/science?
** the secret is no secret
,,,the living is only a species of the dead...a very rare species -- Nietzsche
'..the secret is no secret..'
So is it 'Very easy to do?'
It is unclear if Nietzsche is very helpful on this subject..